Port of Antwerp proudly announced last May that the Saudi company Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) will invest 3.7 billion euros (roughly U.S. $4 billion) in a green project at one of its docks. While the project is lauded as 40 percent more energy-efficient than a classical waste incinerator, doubts about how green the project actually is have quickly developed.
Upon opening a shipment of computers it had received through the International Children’s Fund (ICF), a Ghanaian school discovered the equipment sent was 15 years old. Most of the computers needed replacement parts, parts that weren’t available anymore. In the end, the school managed to get only a single computer working again. While the ICF had good intentions, a fake charity had handed it a container of what was meant to be workable secondhand material that was actually closer to its end of life—that is, effectively waste. That unfortunate Ghanaian school is only one victim in a long chain of corruption, theft and organized crime that stretches from Brussels to Cape Town.